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When it's bathtime, the kids usually get about 10 minutes to play because it is also a chance for them to soak the dirt out (more necessary in the summer than now, granted, but still). Then I (or we) come in and help them shampoo and scrub down. A few days ago, when I came in, they were playing a Swedish children's game the purpose of which is to get the other person to laugh. The rules of the game go like this: the person who is doing the provoking asks the other person questions. The provokee can only respond with the phrase "farfars kalsonger" which means "grandpa's underpants."

So, I enter the steamy bathroom, pull up the stool by the side of the tub and grab a washcloth while they are in the middle of this game. Martin is asking questions of Karin: "Who do you like best? Who's your favorite person in class? What's your favorite clothing?" etc. Karin, completely poker-faced, is turned away from him, zooming a couple of rubber goldfish around, robotically answering over and over "farfars kalsonger...farfars kalsonger...farfars kalsonger" to every attempt. Finally, frustrated, Martin gives up. "She's impossible to crack!" he grimaces.

"Let me try you," I say. "What's your favorite smell in the whole world?"

"Farfars kalsonger"

"What's your favorite pizza topping?"

"Farfars kalsonger" (a smile glints)

"What does your girlfriend look best in?"

"Farfars kalsonger"

"What do you love to wear on your head in the morning?"

"Farfars kalsonger" (a snort escapes)

"What do you love to wear on your head even though it's yellow with brown streaks?"

"Farfars kals---EEW, MAMA!"

Martin cracks up. I win!

I remember playing Quaker's Meeting on the hour-long bus ride from Belgium to our school over the border in Maastricht, Holland when I was in junior high. The object then was for you to not laugh or smile and at the same time to get other people to do it. Quaker's meeting has begun, no more laughing no more fun. If you show your teeth or tongue, you must pay a forfeit!

Another game I remember playing at slumber parties with my girlfriends had the same objective: no laughing. You laid down on the floor and a friend would lie down with her head on your stomach. The next friend would lie down with HER head on her stomach and so on, until everyone was lying down. Then the last girl would say HA. The second-to-last person would say HA HA, and each consecutive person would add a HA until someone cracked up. It never took very long. :)


Last year Anders brought back cloth you-do Santa-shaped Advent calendars from one of his business trips to Italy. There is a small stuffed Santa on a string that you move to each consecutive date as the little gift is removed. We wanted something we could fill ourselves because Karin doesn't like chocolate and nearly all store-bought advent calendars contain chocolate. Two years ago we had a Playmobil one and that was really cool, but too damned expensive. Three years ago we had Kinder Egg advent calendars, which were awesome except for the chocolate problem, although Karin was at least mollified that she got a little toy every day. Last year, we filled the pockets with a mixture of candy and tiny plastic dinosaurs. This year we forgot.


For 3 days. Which is how long it took us to get the decorations out of the attic and out of the boxes and scattered haphazardly placed lovingly and tastefully about the house. 3 days! Our children have been deprived! Aieee! I, being the bad and lazy mom that I really am underneath, was all, eh let's just put them quietly back in the box, but Anders was having none of it. So, he went to the toy store after work the next day (DAY 4 OF NO ADVENT GIFTS) and bought 2 Lego Exo-Force transformer robot bionicley-thingys.

Unlike the Legos of MY day, which came in a bucket with YOUR IMAGINATION, these things come with a 36-page step-by-step instruction book. They have stickers! They have a light-up battery pack! They also have Lego guns and Lego swords and various other weapons of mass Legostruction but we'll just quietly sidestep that issue for the moment. So, we each took a Robot and opened the box and all 3 bags of Lego pieces and spread them out over a surface and then we methodically ripped the book apart, page by page, gathering the pieces for each page carefully into 22 separate piles. I ended up with 6 pieces leftover. Anders ended up with 9. we switched tables and I went through his piles page by page and checked the pieces and he did the same for mine. He found places for 2 of my pieces. I finished up his and still had the pile of 9 extras. We were pretty sure that there shouldn't have been ANY leftovers, as leftover pieces are NOT the norm for Lego kits but it was a quarter to midnight by then and I was past giving a rat's ass. So we bagged them up, pile by pile (with the pages folded up and tucked in the baggies) and popped them into the advent calendar pockets.

If that's not advent toy torture, I don't know what is. Heh.
mood: peaceful
music: Tori Amos—A Sorta Fairytale

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Me, too! You wouldn't believe the hunt my mom and sister and I went through to find plain old building Legos last year for Martin. Mom and Sarah were triumphant though. He got a big box of "generic" pieces in all different colors and then bags of extras: wheels, doors/windows, etc.

Very fun sounding games! I'm sad that I never played the head on the stomach~ HA game. It sounds wild and hilarious! Always good to laugh. Especially when trying not to.

You should try it with your wives group! :)

Good idea! I've gotten them to do silly things before. Why not this?

Grandpa's underpants sounds like so much fun! We must try it. Thanks for sharing. You do the most fun stuff with your kids.

re: Legos- I agree simper is better and why do they feel the need to include a huge instruction book- they are LEGOS ;)

Well, Legos have had a trend for many years now to pre-built figures in a series. All the pieces are specially formed for fitting together in a certain way to form that specific figure (although most of them have other variations). But they are not as "flexible" as regular old Legos, that's certain. However, both kids regularly discard the pre-set ideas and use the pieces to make up things on their own. :)

It is great for kids to use their imaginations. We found a set of Lego ornaments hidden away and when DD saw the pics on the box she told us she could make prettier ornaments! We are going to work on those tonight.

The most sad part about the 36 page instruction book is that I would think only 1/3rd or less is about how to build the Lego item. The other 2/3 would be split between how to play with it and other Lego kits in the same series, sold separately. On Christmas a few years ago, my nephew got one of those Lego Bionicles which were almost impossible to put together, despite having very few pieces (we were three adults trying to help a five or six year old!). Once assembled, you were supposed to read the book to learn the background story and how to play with the thing.

Where has imagination left us if our children need to be told/taught how to play with the toys? I heard the other day that Astrid Lindgren once had written something along those lines, a quote about that without children's imagination, the civilization will come to a halt one day since it is from imagination all the inventions, new constructions and so on stem.

Well, these instruction books were REALLY detailed, but they actually were ONLY about how to build the figure, no advertising for other lego stuff or storylines were included. We managed to find a lot of "generic" Lego building pieces and my mom gave them to Martin last year, so he/they have LOTS of Lego that don't require specific forms or instructions. That said, he usually builds the "set" pieces once and after that he cannibalizes the figures for other imaginative ways to use the pieces to build things from his own imagination. :)

Oooh, we did the LEGO thing last year, but with generic pieces we picked up at Billund!

:) I might have to do it every year if it's successful. I don't like giving candy in them, actually.

I love that grandpas underpants game idea - I'm going to try on my kids on the next long car ride.

We neglected the advent this year also - no - we didn't - we couldn't find a playmobile one and that's what we all had stuck in our heads.

Playmobil rocks :)

oooh, lots of fun ideas for the next sleep-over! :-)

We never DID freeze any bras, though, so there's still that. >:P

You had Legos?! Wow, you're young. We were stuck with Lincoln Logs. Which just saying that name conjures up, I don't know, the prairie or something. ;)

hahah! it conjures up reading books in front of the fireplace on a cold winter night with, uh...a beard and a black top hat on. Hee!

Lincoln logs! Me too. It dates us. I preferred Tinker Toys.

Tinker Toys!!! HAHAHAA! My brother had those! :D Do they even still make them?!

Dunno. Hope so. They were wood.
My kids had legos. Damn, I still remember stepping on them barefoot, at night on my way to the bathroom. Ouch.


farfar sounds like a character out of a Star Wars movie-- not that I've seen any since the first one-- LOVED this glimpse of the Ek Family life-- those kids are living a magic childhood that is for sure.

hope your throat and chest and shoulders are feeling better-- sending you lots of love, bluepoppy

Quaker meeting is so much more pc than what we called that game (Chinese school) and we had to "pay a penalty."

Our Advent calendars are just paper with little pictures and I haul out the same ones each year. I've had them since before I was married so they are tradition (dammit!) and I'm sticking with it! We did have a Playmobil one from my mother last year but at four years old, Ingrid could not get the whole waiting and counting down thing and my mother let her open all the boxes over Thanksgiving weekend! Now with Anders in the grab at everything phase of life, the Playmobil things are stashed away and only allowed to be played with when Anders naps.

I see you're over your writer's dry spell. This was a very wonderful post for all of us who are no longer moms to small children!

Heh. One decent post does not a dry spell endeth. :D

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